IROQUOIS THANKSGIVING ADDRESS Ohenton Kariwahtekwen

The People

Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as people.

Now our minds are one.

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms-waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.

Now our minds are one.

The Fish
We turn our minds to the all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Plants
Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come.

Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs
Now we turn to all the Medicine herbs of the world. From the beginning they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines.

Now our minds are one.

The Animals
We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We are honored by them when they give up their lives so we may use their bodies as food for our people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so.

Now our minds are one

The Trees
We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty and other useful things. Many people of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.

Now our minds are one.

The Birds
We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds-from the smallest to the largest-we send our joyful greetings and thanks.

Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds
We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help us to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds.

Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers
Now we turn to the west where our grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightning and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We are thankful that they keep those evil things made by Okwiseres underground. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers.

Now our minds are one.

The Sun
We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun.

Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon
We put our minds together to give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is the leader of woman all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon.

Now our minds are one.

The Stars
We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to the Stars.

Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers
We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring teachers.

Now our minds are one.

The Creator
Now we turn our thoughts to the creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator.

Now our minds are one.

Closing Words
We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way.

Now our minds are one.

Attitude of Gratitude Moment: Having Elders who share their wisdom and guidance with me freely that I may see with illuminated eyes.

Artist Maxine Noel

Seven Sacred Teachings

The traditional ideals of respect and sharing that form the base of the Aboriginal way of life are built around the seven sacred teachings.
Each law is taught by an animal to teach the lessons that all actions and decisions made by us are done on a physical plane. The animals have taught us how to live close to the earth, and the connection that has been established between the animals and us hasinstilled a respect for all life in those who follow the traditional Aboriginal way.

Wisdom ~ Beaver
The building of a community is entirely dependent on gifts given to each member by the creator and how these gifts are used. The Beaver’s example of using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams and lodges expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, the teeth would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for him to sustain himself. The same can be said for human beings. One’s spirit will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use. When used properly however, these gifts contribute to the development of a peaceful and healthy community.

Love ~ Eagle
To feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that one’s first love is to be the Great Spirit. He is considered the father of all children, and the giver of human life. Love given to the Great Spirit is expressed through love of oneself, and it is understood that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else.
The Eagle was chosen by the Great Spirit to represent this law, as the Eagle can reach the highest out of all the creatures in bringing pure vision to the seeker. Though the purveyor of the greatest and most powerful medicine, love can also be the most elusive of the teachings, as it depends upon a world that acknowledges the importance of spirituality.

Respect ~ Buffalo
The Buffalo, through giving it’s life and sharing every part of it’s being, showed the deep respect it had for the people. No animal was more important to the existence of Indigenous families than this animal, and it’s gift provided shelter, clothing and utensils for daily living. Native people believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed a sustainable relationship with the Buffalo resulting in a relationship that was a true expression of respect.

Courage/Bravery ~ Bear
The Bear provides many lessons in the way it lives, but courage is the most important teaching it offers. Though gentle by nature, the ferociousness of a mother Bear when one of her cubs is approached is the true definition of courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears that prevent us from living our true spirit as human beings is a great challenge that must be met with the same vigor and intensity as a mother Bear protecting her cub. Living of the heart and living of the spirit is difficult, but the Bear’s example shows us how to face any danger to achieve these goals.

Honesty ~ Sasquatch

North American Aboriginal culture follows closely an animal called Sasquatch. Sasquatch walks among the people to remind them to be honest to the laws of the creator and honest to each other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the saying “There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.” To be truly honest was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself. The Elders would say, “Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator made you.”

Humility ~ Wolf
Recognizing and acknowledging that there is a higher power than man and it is known as the Creator is to be deemed truly humble. To express deference or submission to the Creator through the acceptance that all beings are equal is to capture the spirit of humility. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.

Truth ~ Turtle
To know truth is to know and understand all of the original laws as given by the Creator- and to remain faithful to them. It is said that in the beginning, when the Creator made man and gave him the seven sacred laws, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that the laws would never be lost or forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are the 13 moon, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth’s rotations around the sun. The 28 markings on her back represent the cycle of the moon an of a woman’s body. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves as a reminder of the Creator’s will and teachings.

 

Opening the Door to Miracles

by Karen Berg

There is a kabbalistic story about a righteous person who had many students. One day, one of the students came to this teacher and said, “I don’t think I can be here anymore.  I have so many questions, so many things that I don’t understand.  I simply can’t follow this path any longer. I want to give up.”

Calmly and simply, the kabbalist responded, “Did these questions come to you before or after you decided this wasn’t your path?”

The student thought for a moment and said, “You know…yes, you’re right. I got the questions after I decided. What about it?”

“Well,” the kabbalist replied, “it seems you don’t have questions. You have answers.”

Oftentimes, when we look at other people—our friends, our spouse, our siblings, even our acquaintances—we don’t have questions; we have answers.  Armed with our preconceptions and judgments, we close the door of our heart to others instead of leaving it open for them to walk through.

Many times, we don’t step back so we can appreciate those around us.  Perhaps their values are different than ours. Perhaps they have a different lifestyle than we do. Nevertheless, it is our job to accept them—just as they are—as part of our life.  Why?  Because the moment we decide to judge how another person lives, then we put ourselves in the role of the Creator. And we are not the Creator.  No one is.

The Bible says that Moses asked to see the face of God, and God said, “You cannot see My face. But I will show you My back.”  What does this mean? Essentially, the Creator was reminding Moses that as humans, we do not see the whole picture; we see only what the Creator chooses to reveal to us.

It’s true.  When we look at another person, we don’t know how many lifetimes he has lived or what he has done.  We don’t know why he was put in the vessel where he now exists, nor do we know what his tomorrow will be.  We see only the limited view of this moment, this snapshot in time, so we cannot judge. There are lifetimes of experiences and information invisible to us as well as a future of possibilities that we can’t anticipate.

As we head into the coming holidays, we need to remember that if we want to connect to the full energy available, then we need to be prepared to come with questions rather than answers.  We need to prepare ourselves to be open to the likelihood of a new experience and to see ourselves as minute in the world of the Light.  Why? Because in reality, the only way that you and I and all of us can become somebody is when we come to understand that we are nobody.  In the world of the Light, whatever our position, our honor, or our possessions, everything can change in two seconds.  That is why it is so important that we all bear the mark of appreciation.

As human beings, we generally see the cup as half empty: We look at people and immediately judge them for their faults. Most of us don’t automatically turn to another human being and say, “Wow, how wonderful you are!” We usually start by finding faults, those places that seem dark to us.

This week, however, we can make a different choice.  We can go forward with appreciation for everything and everyone in our lives, and with this energy, we can open up the door of miracles.